30-inch Apple Cinema Display of yore still dazzles [Setups]

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Even at 10 or 15 years of age, a 30-inch Apple Cinema Display can still be insanely great.
Even at 10 or 15 years of age, a 30-inch Apple Cinema Display can still be insanely great.
Photo: brazzy2010@Reddit

Redditor brazzy2010 has a super-simple setup with a tremendous asset to go along with an M1-powered MacBook Air. It’s a 30-inch Apple Cinema Display from more than a decade ago. Its exact age is unknown, but it could be up to 16 years old.

Not only does the elderly display still work — with the right connectors, it still dazzles.

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30-inch Apple Cinema Display doesn’t look its age

In June 2004, the newly released 30-inch monitor was the largest display of its kind. The wide-format, active-matrix LCD sported 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution and delivered 4.1 million pixels overall. The all-aluminum casing included two FireWire ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a tilting hinge.

Apple also released 20-inch and 24-inch versions alongside the 30-inch monitor. The 20-incher went out of production in early 2009. The other two remained in production until July 2010, when Apple discontinued them in favor of its then-new 27-inch model.

The cost in 2004? $3,299. The cost now? It varies, but graphic designer Johnny McClung, who calls the display “one of the most gorgeous pieces of tech to work on” in his YouTube video, picked up one last year in Facebook MarketPlace for $175.

“In my opinion, this monitor has a very cinematic feel to it,” McClung says in the video. “It really still holds its own in terms of creative reproduction. For anyone who works in film, photography or graphic design, this monitor, I think, is still a benchmark.”

Get the right adapters

Brazzy2010 credits McClung for helping him figure out how to make the ancient, 27-pound beast cooperate with new technology.

If you manage to find one of these beautiful old monitors, you’ll need a power supply and some adapters. The original Apple 150-watt power supply is recommended. Hopefully the monitor you find will still have it. If not, you’ll have to find it separately. See the links below.

You should also get a USB-C to Mini DisplayPort adapter and, crucially, the Apple A1306 Mini DisplayPort to Dual-link DVI Adapter.

You need the dual-link adapter to get the full resolution, which is what makes the display so worthwhile even today. YouTubers have tried other connection schemes and found them lacking.

This YouTube video does a nice job of explaining how to set it up.

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